Gov. George E. Pataki said Thursday a proposal from Assembly Democrats to toughen the state's driving-while-intoxicated statute does not go "remotely far enough" in giving some offenders serious prison time.
Pataki said his bill, approved, 61-0, earlier this year by the State Senate, is the answer in cases like the October accident in Queens in which an 11-year-old boy was killed and his 12-year-old friend critically injured.
The driver of the van that plowed into the boys as they crossed a street, 56-year-old John Wirta of Queens, was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving because there were no aggravating offenses such as speeding or reckless driving that could have allowed a more serious charge. Wirta faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Pataki said his bill would eliminate the need to show aggravating circumstances in vehicular manslaughter cases. It would make such drivers subject to a Class C felony and five years in prison.